Are You Listening?
Say, ‘Yes,’ and Be God’s Light
Such a wide world. So many problems. What can I do as just one person? Lent is an appropriate time to step back from the brink of resignation and contemplate what it takes to “Be God’s Light that Shines in the Darkness.”
Given the right circumstances, a single person can make an impact far beyond the expected reach of an ordinary individual. For example, a recently published book review in The Washington Post described how the son of Holocaust survivors helped bring about a peace agreement in Mozambique that saved lives. In the book, The Good American, The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian, author Robert D. Kaplan describes how the consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department adopted a new technique to help officials make sound policies. He relied on interviewing refugees and other vulnerable people. Over a 40-year career, according to reviewer Daniel Runde, Gersony talked to more than 8,200 people.
But the most important observation is that he listened. That is a characteristic anyone can emulate. Think of listening as a way of letting God’s light shine through.
Teachers, priests, and mentors do it, shaping others’ actions in the process. Young people often brighten the lives of their elders with a call, or text, or video-chat. Parents and children share life’s lessons. Spouses, siblings, friends, neighbors, and co-workers shine God’s light when they lend an ear. And during the pandemic, having someone to talk to eases what can be a frightening, lonely path.
Clearly, most of us have the opportunity to speak with hundreds or thousands of people over the decades of our lives. And while most of us are not aiming for world peace or even a nation’s peace, however imperfect it turned out to be, we do have the chance to listen.